.Gaza War Protests Ramp Up in Sonoma County

It’s been a big week for the local movement against Israel’s monthslong war in Gaza, which has reportedly killed more than 30,000 Palestinians. After major anti-war protests swept the nation on Monday — including ones in the Bay Area that halted traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and the 880 for hours, as activists reportedly chained themselves to 55-gallon drums filled with cement — the “Sonoma County for Palestine” group organized a followup demonstration in Healdsburg on Tuesday morning. It targeted the local offices of a large U.S. weapons manufacturer called General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, which activists say is behind some of the bombs that Israel is dropping on Gaza. General Dynamics is located in a big, nondescript building right next to Healdsburg’s post office — and has been for decades, without much notice from locals. The activist group claimed on Facebook that “General Dynamics makes 2,000-pound bombs that have been linked to mass-casualty events in the genocide against Gaza, and they have a factory that makes weapons parts right here in Healdsburg.” Early Tuesday, a few dozen protesters stretched giant red banners with slogans like “Block the Bombs: Free Palestine” across the General Dynamics driveway. They banged on drums, shouted into a megaphone and led call-and-response chants such as “General Dynamics, you can’t hide; stop arming genocide.” The Healdsburg Tribune reports that General Dynamics is the country’s sixth largest defense contractor, and that “it originally developed the F-16 fighter jet and now makes the metal casings of the MK-80 bombs widely used by Israel in the Gaza conflict, as well as 155mm artillery shells.” According to a brochure on the company’s website, the Healdsburg office is where they design and build their “control actuation systems” — aka, the guidance systems for weapons like tactical missiles. The company says its Healdsburg operations are “critical in providing high performance, superb quality, and low cost technically advanced systems to our customers and ultimately the war fighter.” One of Tuesday’s demonstrators, 24-year-old Petaluma resident Ma’ayan Pe’er, told the Tribune they were in Israel on Oct. 7, when Hamas militants attacked a music festival and kibbutz and killed some 1,200 people. “I saw the horrors of the genocide that Israel was enacting on Palestinians and Gaza,” they said. Another local activist group in Sonoma County called “Love and Light: Movement for Change” held a followup demonstration yesterday afternoon in the Healdsburg plaza, to “stand united against genocide and advocate for liberation for all.” And later today, Sonoma County for Palestine also be holding their regular weekly protest in Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. — but this time, with an Earth Day theme. “Killing people kills the planet,” the event flier says. “We cannot end the climate crisis without ending the crisis of genocide in Gaza.” Anti-war activists in Sonoma County have been pushing local government entities for months to pass resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, but so far only the Cotati City Council has made the move. (Source: Healdsburg TribuneSonoma County for Palestine via Facebook & Love & Light via Instagram & General Dynamics & Press Democrat & ABC7)


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